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on homecomings

June 26 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,snack » 25 comments

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Arriving at my parents’ house is always an adventure.  Usually, only one person comes to retrieve me, and now Kevin, from the airport; no one else can tear themselves away from the fun going on back at the house.  Once we arrive at the house, we always enter through the garage, which delivers you directly into my family’s kitchen—the undeniable hub of the house.  It’s a little like opening the door of a dollhouse—cracking one hinge provides a glimpse into all the action going on inside, except the scene is real, the house and its occupants full-sized.

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These days, you can find my grandpa on an overstuffed couch to the left, his bad foot propped up on the coffee table.  He’ll clap his hands on his knees and exclaim “Hiya guys!” before hoisting himself up with the help of his walking stick, spreading his giant arms for a hug.  My grandma is likely at the kitchen table, the playing cards she travels with arranged before her in a game of solitaire.  She too jumps to her feet, clapping her hands and perhaps even hooting and hollering a little bit.  The only one who beats these two to the welcome is my parents’ dog Bailey, tail whipping back and forth, a toy clenched in her jaw.  She gets a good scratch behind the ears before we move on to the rest of the family.

My mom, if she wasn’t our airport chauffeur is undoubtedly in the kitchen itself, (wo)maning an array of pots and pans on the range, each emitting a welcoming scent.  She’ll wait for everyone else to get their hugs in, before swooping in for a hug that lasts a second longer and squeezes a little tighter than everyone else’s.  My stepdad might be on the back deck, which stretches out from the kitchen, smoking his pipe or tending to the grill or the just generally surveying the scene.  He too comes in for a hug, brimming with some story or another with which he can’t wait to regale us.  Ali has usually folded herself into an impossible position on an armchair, her laptop balancing on the arm.  She look up from over the top of the screen and throw a “Hey” our way.  Seeing as though we’ve likely been exchanging emails, texts, and messages all day, a hug doesn’t really seem necessary.

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Our bags will sit by the door as we immediately launch into chatter and the until-then-bare counter mysteriously fills up with an assortment of snacks.  Anchoring the spread, always, is bowl of rippled potato chips (Old Dutch) and a small tub of an old family favorite—Top the Tater dip, a creamy, chive flecked dip that is the most perfect accompaniment to a rippled chip that you will ever find.  The counter usually boasts a few other more sophisticated, elaborate, homemade dishes, but it’s the Top the Tater we can’t resist.

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Before Kevin warmed to this rather overwhelming homecoming scene, he warmed to that dip.  We’ve all loved it for years, but Kevin quickly became its biggest champion.  My mom started buying extra containers of the stuff in preparation for our visits, pressing at least one foil-wrapped container into our hands before we head back for Chicago.  You see, we’ve never seen the dip outside of Minnesota-a fact that has deeply troubled Kevin.

Kevin’s resting much easier these days because I’ve learned to make the dip at home, a fact that elicited deep admiration from my family when we were in Minnesota last weekend.  It couldn’t be easier, really, and I can’t for the life of my figure out what took me so long to give it a go.  Perhaps I was hesitant to divorce the dip from the homecoming scene, from my parents’ house, from Minnesota.  Now that we have the recipe at the ready, I’m happy to be able to conjure up these memories at a moment’s notice.

Creamy Chive Dip

1 8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processer until smooth.  Serve immediately, with chips or raw vegetables, or chill.

25 comments so far. »
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  1. Andrea [bella eats] says on June 26 2009 at 11:27 am:

    Beautiful post, Kristin! You took us right to the scene…

  2. Kara says on June 26 2009 at 11:39 am:

    Love how you painted the scene – sounds just perfect and keeps you coming back for more. And the dip, yum, that doesn’t hurt either!! Perfect for our next summer cookout! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Whitney says on June 26 2009 at 12:29 pm:

    Sounds like you have an amazingly warm family. I am lucky bc Dave’s family is almost exactly the same way.

  4. GS says on June 26 2009 at 1:29 pm:

    I’m going to my friend’s house tonight after work (a very impromptu invitation) and I want to bring her a little something! I thought I would have to stop at the deli and pick up something ready-made…and then you came along!!!

  5. Shannalee says on June 26 2009 at 3:04 pm:

    Your family sounds lovely, and this dip looks delicious, but the real reason I’m commenting is to say, Bailey! My dog’s named Bailey, too! (Only he’s a boy, and everyone gets confused because I unknowingly chose a predominantly feminine name for him.) Enjoyed reading this!

  6. BigSis says on June 26 2009 at 4:35 pm:

    You did paint an incredible heartwarming picture of your family! And that dip! It looks delicious…cool, creamy, rich. I could eat chips and dips every night for dinner if I wouldn’t balloon up to 1000 pounds!

  7. Polly Rice says on June 27 2009 at 9:09 am:

    Dips like this are a major weakness for me! Fortunately 4th of July is looming close so I will have an excuse to make this. I don’t know if you ever make beer dip but I have found that to be one of my absolute fave dips of this type.

  8. Monica h says on June 28 2009 at 12:07 am:

    This looks so creamy. I have an award for you on my blog!

  9. Lee @ foodie plus 4 says on June 28 2009 at 2:02 pm:

    What a perfect summer dip. I can almost taste it with the saltiness of those wavy chips. Yum.

  10. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) says on June 29 2009 at 4:15 am:

    Beautiful story! And I can understand your obsessiveness with the dip, it looks great :)

  11. Kaitlyn says on June 29 2009 at 7:28 am:

    What a great homecoming story! That dip looks so creamy and perfect for summer!

  12. GS says on June 29 2009 at 7:37 am:

    Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I made this dip on Friday and it was gobbled up! Next time, I think I’ll substitute onion powder for the garlic powder just to see how it turns out!

  13. Carrie says on June 29 2009 at 8:50 am:

    I love learning recipes for family favorites that have such memories like that! And I have a serious weakness for chips and dip….saving this for sure!

  14. Ali says on June 29 2009 at 2:25 pm:

    All this needs is a beer and a deck of cards…(P.S. I totally get up to give you a hug!!!) Anyway, this looks perfect!

  15. Diane says on June 29 2009 at 7:24 pm:

    I absolutely can’t wait to try the recipe…it does elicit so many great memories.Thanks for the visit home and we can’t wait to see you soon! love, MOM

  16. Dana says on July 05 2009 at 5:53 pm:

    I’d love to be a guest in that house – sounds so welcoming. This dip is the perfect thing to serve at a party – the kind of thing almost everyone likes. I’ll try it at our next one.

  17. cindy says on July 07 2009 at 8:38 am:

    Old Dutch chips are the only chips for me. I go home to South Dakota and there is always a box ready for me and a tub of chip dip from Lakeside dairy now Nordic. Similar to your dip. I will definitely be trying your dip recipe. Thanks

  18. Meg says on July 14 2009 at 12:54 pm:

    This is so funny. I used to live in Chicago, but moved to Minneapolis a few years back, and it was only then did I encounter the addiction of Top the Tater and Old Dutch Chips. It’s such a problem that we have now dubbed Top the Tater as, “crack.”

  19. sarah says on June 16 2010 at 1:15 pm:

    I buy these items in bulk and drive them back to Montana, Old Dutch Chips, Top the Tater, Sunkist Sparking Lemonade. All items found In Msp in the summer, and reminds me of how much I miss it there!!

  20. Frankie Hopkins says on October 17 2010 at 7:53 pm:

    I live in Great Falls and am from the Iron Range, the next time you drive home let me know and I will put in an order! OMG we miss it!!

  21. Susie says on April 27 2012 at 2:45 pm:

    Awsome, I can’t wait to try the Top The Tator recipie. I live in California & bring home a cooler full every time we visit MN. Mom, my siter & my brother “ALL” stock it up in preparation of our visits. Then as we go from house to house in Norther MN, everyone sets out, “A little lunch” like your description of the scene where the counter suddenly has an array of small plates, too funny…. I’ve been trying for years to get it shipped out here, but no luck. I believe I have the same issue with homecomings & the little green container w/Old Dutch potatoto Chips that you have & can’t believe I never just tried to make it. I’m a really good cook too, so go figure.

  22. April says on June 07 2012 at 1:38 pm:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    I am from Minnesota but have lived in Montana for quite awhile; I have to admit, one of the things I miss the most from back home is Top the Tater with Old Dutch Potato Chips. My 3 year old daughter is also now addicted to it & asks for Top the Tater all year long. Of course we stock up when we go back to visit or when visitors come to us, but that only lasts so long.

    Now hopefully your recipe can satisfy us for those times between visits!

  23. Sarah says on June 09 2012 at 5:10 pm:

    I know you wrote this years ago but I wanted to let you know my family, now in Washington, loves this recipe. It is close enough that we don’t have to smuggle it home on the plane anymore! Thank you!

  24. Susan says on June 22 2012 at 12:46 pm:

    Thank you! I grew up in Minnesota and top the tater one of my favorite dips, however I now live in Nevada and nothing come close to potato chips and top the tater! We even went as far as trying to order it online which did not work but now I cant wait to try this recipie. Again thank you so much!

  25. Aramelle {One Wheeler's World} says on February 21 2013 at 12:18 pm:

    Ohhhhhh my goodness! The giddiness with which I read your post simply cannot be put into words. I have longed for Top the Tater with each potato chip and every baked potato since the day I left MN in 2004. A new work buddy and I have talked often about our love for that thick, yummy dip.

    This is so getting made SOON! Thanks so much for sharing this! :)

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